New Year’s Resolution: Read More…And Here’s Why

scbwi-winter-16-reading-list-231x300What are you reading?

It’s a simple question that could elicit a complex response and an exchange of ideas. It’s a question that can cut through all the tedious niceties and get right to the issue—the depth of your mind and that of your friend.

This is our time of year for resolutions. “I’ll lose ten pounds,” you say, and “I’ll join a gym.” Why not read a book a week? Books connect us to new worlds and different relationships. They show us various belief systems and prejudices that can be read at a speed you control.

Reading is a wonderful way to examine your life. It’s one of the few activities where you can compare what you’ve achieved with the performances of others. You read about the thoughts, ideas, and feelings of real and fictitious people, and in so doing you learn more about yourself and the world you live in.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has provided a list of 1100 books from 328 publishers in 15 different regions around the world. From the California/Hawaii Region alone, SCBWI gives us 149 titles for Pre-K readers through young adults. Topics include historical nonfiction, picture books, mysteries, and more.

koolura-coverFor the middle grade reader there’s the science fiction fantasy, Koolura and the MayansOne Amazon reader had this to say about the book: [This] is the third book in the Koolura series from author Michael Thal. The reader doesn’t need to have read the first two books to follow what has already happened in previous novels. The story stands alone.

Koolura’s dad is getting married in Oaxaca, Mexico. She and her best friend Leila, a deaf girl, go with Koolura’s family for the wedding. Koolura has many psychic powers such as time traveling. She and Leila go back in time to when the Mayans ruled Mexico. She and Leila are not the only ones brought back in time. Aliens have set up camp and plan on changing history. Koolura and Leila try to stop them, but have many obstacles to overcome.

This is a Y.A. thriller/adventure story, a genre that I don’t usually read. It was a joy ride to another era along with being an entertaining novel. I especially liked Koolura and Leila. A Armenian heroine and a deaf sidekick are very unusual. I liked the originality. I think this would be a wonderful read for YA lovers of all ages. Author Michael Thal has managed to teach something about history while keeping the reader glued to the pages of the book. Well done! I am an instant fan! 5/5 Stars.

Stacey Lee’s novel, Outrun the Moon, is a wonderful example of a historical novel. Booklist had this to say, “Mercy’s narrative is flecked with witty puns, pithy wisdom from her fortune-telling mother, aphorisms from her favorite business book, and her obsession with bad-luck number four, all of which provide meaningful insight into both her character and her culture. While slipping in plenty of meaty historical context, particularly about the discrimination facing Chinese immigrants at the time, Lee tells a resoundingly warmhearted story about community arising amidst earth-shattering disaster.”

south-of-sunshineIn the category of Contemporary Romance Dana Elmendorf brings us South of Sunshine. School Library Journal had this to say, “Kaycee Jean McCoy has lived her entire life in the small town of Sunshine, TN. She’s aware of the dangers of revealing her lesbian identity, the secret she’s worked hard to keep even from herself. From her mother’s store to church on Sunday, Kaycee goes to great lengths to fit in, even seeking boyfriends to support her disguise. But when athletic, worldly Bren transfers to their school, Kaycee finds it hard to stay away, even when it puts her new girlfriend and closest friends in danger. Kaycee’s coming-out story presents a dark side of contemporary small-town life. The members of Kaycee’s community regularly use racial and antigay slurs, and she faces an immediate threat of antigay violence. The tumultuous coming out and secret romance with Bren will resonate with readers, as will the effects on the teen’s friendships. The setting is fully realized, establishing a familiar backdrop for the realistic and unsettling bigotry of the town.”

The SCBWI Winter Reading List includes books of all genres written and illustrated by respected authors and artists. Take the opportunity to make this year’s resolution count. Plan on reading books by authors close to your home or from another part of the globe. You are bound to learn more about yourself by reading the thoughts and ideas of others.  

Michael is the author of four published novels—Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura and Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Examiner writing articles about parenting and education. His blog features YA authors and books.

One thought on “New Year’s Resolution: Read More…And Here’s Why

  1. Joe Bock Reply

    I read and enjoyed, Koolura and the Mayans. I heartily agree that “An Armenian heroine and a deaf sidekick are very unusual”.

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